Pinball Stomp: part1

Despite my atrociously short attention span, I’ve always loved pinball. Maybe it is something about all the flashing lights and clunking solenoids. Maybe it is just the simple physics at the center of it all. I’m not really sure.  My kids, however, don’t share my enthusiasm. I suspect part of it is that they never wandered through a fog filled arcade in the middle of the night, hopped up on Reese’s Pieces with a shrinking pile of quarters in their pocket. The other part might be the fact that they have gotten used to the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox Kinect (we just got one last week).

Watching them jump up and down playing an extremely simple and repetitive game with the Kinect gave me an idea. I envisioned pinball projected on the side of my house, the kids jumping up and down in front of it to move the paddles. Keep reading to see how I plan to build it and what I’ve done so far. There’s a full video, but also text of the entire thing.
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Auto power circuit for an arcade machine

Some of the pinball machines which [Jeri Ellsworth] has restored have ended up in the break room at her work. We’re sure her coworkers are thankful for this, but sometimes they forget to turn off the power to the machines, and letting them run constantly means more frequent servicing will be necessary. She set out to fix the situation by building a circuit that will automatically power the machines.

We think the solution adds some much needed functionality. Instead of hunting for the power switch, you can now power the machine up by hitting the left flipper, and it will automatically shut off after about five minutes of not having that flipper button pressed. For this she grabbed a 555 timer chip and built a circuit to control the relay switching the mains power.

She added a magnet and reed switch to the left flipper switch assembly to control her add-on circuit. It connects to the base of a PNP transistor which controls a resistor network and capacitor. This part of the circuit (seen to the left of the 555 in the schematic) allows the timer to be re-triggered. That is, every time you press the flipper the 555 will reset the timer. Don’t miss the demo she filmed after the break.

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Using 555 timers to add “free play” functionality to classic arcade machines

freeplay-arcade-board

[John Zitterkopf] is in the middle of restoring a vintage Sega Star Trek Captain’s Chair arcade game for the upcoming 2012 Texas Pinball festival, though one prerequisite for the show is that the game supports some sort of free play mode. At this point he doesn’t have the option of tracking down a freeplay ROM for the device, so he had to come up with a solution of his own.

He did not want to alter the machine’s operation in any significant manner, and this meant preserving the functionality of the coin chutes. To do this, he put together a small circuit that uses a pair of cascaded 555 timers to provide the machine with the proper signaling to simulate coin insertion, while still accepting coins. You might initially think that this could be easily accomplished by shorting a pair of contacts in the coin chutes, but as [John] explains, the process is a tad more complex than that.

If you have some old arcade games kicking around and are looking for a non-invasive way to make them free to play, be sure to check out his site for schematics and a complete BoM.

Hackaday Links: January 5, 2012

Now make it life size

Here’s a scale model of the classic Playstation game Wipeout. It uses quantum levitation, superconductors, liquid nitrogen, and incredibly detailed models of the cars in Wipeout. They’re able control the speed and direction of the cars electronically. Somebody get on making one of these I can drive. Never mind, it’s totally fake, but here’s a choo-choo that does the same thing. Thanks for the link, [Ben].

Found a use for eight copies of Deep Impact

Where do you keep all your wire? [Paul] keeps his inside VHS tapes. It’s one of the most efficient ways of storing wire we’ve seen, just don’t touch those VHS copies of the original Star Wars trilogy.

There’s MAME machines for pinball?

MAME arcade machines are old hat, but we’ve never seen something to emulate pinball. The build uses two LCD monitors, a small computer and PinMAME. There’s videos in the build log; tell us if we’re stupid for wanting to build one. Thanks go to [Adrian] for sending this one in.

LEGO binary to decimal conversion

[Carl] is doing a few experiments to see if it’s possible to build a calculating machine out of LEGO. He managed to convert four bits of binary into decimal. We’ve seen a LEGO Antikythera mechanism but nothing on the order of an Analytical Engine or some Diamond Age rod logic. Keep it up, [Carl].

Lubs and Dubs that aren’t for dubstep

The folks at Toymaker Television posted a neat demo of heart rhythms emulated with a microprocessor. It cycles through normal sinus rhythm, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and everything else that can go wrong with your heart. We know some nurses that would have loved this in school.

Jeri Ellsworth’s shooting gallery

Back with another interesting vidoe, [Jeri Ellsworth] once again brings us an amusing and educational hack. This time she’s made a “shooting gallery” in the style of the old arcade games that actually used projectiles. In her version however, she’s using LEDs in the targets which are detected by the gun.  In an effort to keep the feel the same, she rigged up a pinball bell to ding at the appropriate times and it is quite effective.

As usual, she does a great job of breaking everything down and explaining how it all works. She shows us around her prototype so you can see how it is constructed, if you can make it through the solder gun shootout in the beginning.  If she were to continue with this project beyond the functional prototype stage, we’d love to see small video clips being displayed for the targets pepper’s ghost style. Maybe we’re just having fond memories of Time Traveler.

DIY Digital pinball console plays hundreds of games

pinball_console

Pinball machines, while likely considered pretty retro technology by most, are still a fun and engaging way to waste a little time. The problem with pinball machines is that they take up a lot of space, making the hobby of collecting them pretty prohibitive unless you have tons of spare room in your house.

[tbarklay] loves pinball machines but doesn’t have to room for an elaborate collection. Rather than purchase one machine, he opted to build his own pinball table that can be used to play any number of games. He repurposed an old PC to power his table, connecting it to a 24″ LCD panel for the main display board. A custom cabinet was built to contain the large LCD panel as well as the computer. A 19″ LCD screen was mounted on top of the cabinet to serve as the backglass display. A set of arcade buttons were also added to the console to provide realistic paddle control.

While we don’t have a video of his particular table in action, check out this video we found of  a pinball machine that uses the same setup.

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NBA Hangtime pinball display

[Ed Zarick] continues work on his NBA Hangtime pinball machine with the completion of the scoreboard and backglass. You should remember this project as we already covered the layer audio he developed for the system. Now he’s proving to be a protoboard master, using point-to-point techniques to build a pair of two and a half digit LED displays for team scores, as well as a shot clock timer and other status indicators.

The lighting board that controls it all is commanded via the i2c protocol, just like the three audio modules. It uses shift registers along with MOSFETs and [Ed] has taken the time to add pin headers and sockets for board interconnects. As is true with the audio system, one Arduino Mega acts as the master on the i2c bus and you’ll notice in the video after the break that the display works in perfect harmony with the sound effects.

We can’t wait to see what he comes up with for the play field!

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